Hi Smooth and Tony.
Sorry, didn't mean to open a can-O-worms. That always confused me because worms are pretty easy to round up. Now a Can-O Snakes...
Smooth, you're absolutely right, and I stand corrected. I hadn't been to those sites in a while, and I'm always frustrated when companies whose viewers we're designing our panos for feel compelled to intercept what would normally be a simple install process with their own marketing propoganda.
Like you, we used to get multitudes of calls from people who couldn't grasp that installation was a seperate step from downloading. That's why we switched to Java in the first place... it was more "idiot-proof." I was saddened to learn last year that Java support on standard Windows installations was in question, as this greatly affects our industry. Part of our selling feature was that nearly all Windows users could see our panos "right out of the box" without having to download or install any special software. That initself gained us many clients.
I've read some rumors that the latest Java release conflicts with PTCompass. Any idea if that's true? Our site uses PTCompass to demonstrate our Aerial VR process, and at least 2 clients whom we've done aerial jobs for require it as navigational aids in their narratives (look N.W. to see building X). I get nervous when Java standards change without my knowledge.
Getting slightly off the subject, there are organizations of pano photographers like QTVRA whom mainly deal with Apple viewers, as the name would suggest. Is there a similar, organized group for those who's primary means of publication use Java?
On every CD project RotoPix produces, we include the .exe files for both Quicktime and Sun Java 1.4.1. By the way, we're now licensed by Apple for QT distribution on stand-alone media. I wish the same could be said for Sun Java. If they remove functionality (ala PTCompass) or turn it into Bloatware we're screwed. Regarding Bloatware, Imove did this when they introduced useless functionality into their viewer .exe that increased the file size 10-fold. We instantly lost our dial-up market. Quicktime has done this too, but much of our market share is now on broadband, so the affects are not as pronounced as they were 3 years ago.
What I'm getting at here is that there seems to be a need among us VR producers for a universal, on-demand applet through which to provide our panoramic content to the masses. Java was the solution for a while, but their relation with MS is iffy. Quicktime is a nice alternative, but their viewer is sometimes jerky in panning, and forces clients to download and install a large file before they can even see your work. Most people won't... just a fact of life.
Bottom line: Producing breathtaking Panos is pointless unless there's a reliable medium through which to display them. Our reliance on other's technology forces compliance. That's why we're forced to do things like Cubic Conversions and write .IVR files. It's proprietary to a specific viewer. At any time the holder of that viewer can pull the rug out from under us and we've got a lot of 1s and 0s that mean nothing.
Given enough time, it's inevitable that the "infinite wisdom" of our Microsoft overlords will manage to capitalize on the pano industry. I'd welcome that if I thought they'd do it right. But based on their track record I get this sinking feeling.
End of rant.